Iran can soon find itself under the European Union (EU) sanctions for helping Russia with drones in war against Ukraine. EU Ambassador in Delhi Ugo Astuto told CNN-News18 the union will also look at Iranian state actors with the next package of sanctions. “So yes, we are specifically looking at the Iran case”, Astuto said.
In recent months, the Russian war machinery has been using drones excessively to target military establishments and other major infrastructure across Ukraine. A substantial number of these drones have been reported to be Iranian Shahed 131 and 136 used by Russia in the Kamikaze raid.
These drones are reported to have reached Russia as recently as November last year. The EU has already put a number of sanctions against Russia’s close ally Belarus for supporting and facilitating Russian military action in Ukraine. But, so far, Iran has been out of the sanctions net despite multiple claims of helping Russia with Kamikaze drones.
Meanwhile, the European Union is also preparing to impose new waves of sanctions against Russia, which will be 10th in the series of economic and trade coercion, and will be announced soon. EU with its allies including the USA and Japan has imposed various economic and trade sanctions on Russia, which is in a yearlong war with Ukraine, calling Russian actions “aggressive and unjustified”.
Astuto said, “What we are going to do with our allies is to isolate Russia and put sanctions against its leadership and hold them accountable, and affect the capacity of the Kremlin to continue its aggression.” The sanctions are going to kick in soon and it will be “broad and unprecedented and include financial sanctions, economic sanctions and listing of people who have been responsible for the aggression,” said Astuto.
When asked whether the last nine rounds of sanctions have yielded the desired results? “It does,” replied the EU envoy. Augusto said the figures show that the Russian economy has started to falter, there are consequences in the capital market, there are shortages in the tech sector. “The sanctions are biting, and they are having an impact on the capacity of the Russian leadership to continue the aggression,” said Augusto.
In one of the most destructive wars of recent times, many cities in Ukraine have been destroyed displacing the entire population. The EU and NATO have helped Ukraine stand in this war at a level playing field.
The war that has been going on in Europe has affected almost the entire supply chain of the global economy.
When asked how does Europe see the Ukraine-Russia war, which has been largely based in Europe, impacting other parts of the world? Agusto said, “What we see is the direct impact of the Russian aggression, and of the deliberate policy choices made by the Russian leadership. They do want to impact the world market with fuel prices, food prices, fertiliser prices. We as the European Union are trying to meet the needs of vulnerable populations, especially of the African countries, we are trying to facilitate the export of grain from Ukraine, but let me say it very bluntly that EU sanctions do not affect the food or the fertiliser sector. We are trying to stabile the world energy process by way of price caps. And we see that the price cap is having a positive stabilising effect.
Close to $100 billion of aid and assistance have been extended to Ukraine to fight against Russia. Does the same amount of effort is also going in to find a diplomatic solution to the war? Ugo Astuto said the EU is always open to diplomatic solutions, and Ukraine has presented its own view — how to proceed for peace. “But what we hear from Russia is just propaganda. Basically, they want their illegal invasion, illegal aggression to be accepted as fait accompli, and that is not possible.”
There have been reports of Russian soldiers digging trenches at the frontline. More battle tanks, ammunition, advance weaponry and military training is also being committed to the Ukraine by NATO members. So, does this mean that both sides are expecting a long haul?
The EU ambassador said, “The war could stop right now if Russia decided to stop its aggression, and restore the sovereignty and territorial integrity of its neighbour. If Ukrainians were to stop fighting, the very existence of Ukraine as a sovereign nation will be in jeopardy. So, the war will continue as long as Russia continues its aggression.”
India is holding the G20 presidency at a time when the geostrategic atmosphere around the world continues to be unpredictable. Beginning of the March, New Delhi will be hosting foreign ministers’ meeting of the G2O member states.
With Russia vs NATO divide becoming aggressive, India’s role in keeping the frictions down and bringing them on a discussion table could be a big challenge. The EU envoy said, “We are not in business as usual situation.” But he trusts that India will “find a way” to a “positive conclusion.”. “India is an influential voice in the world. We have heard the prime minister’s call for peace that it is not a time for war, a very important appeal. We are not in a business as usual situation. Obviously, it will also affect the proceedings of the G20, but we trust the Indian presidency in finding a way to bring this proceeding to a positive conclusion."
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